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Wellness Incentives to Offer Your Employees

By 

 — February 9th, 2022

Wellness Incentives to Offer Your Employees

Studies show that there is a strong link between workplace well-being and employee productivity, retention, and all-around happiness. Despite having good intentions, most employees have a hard time beginning and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Workplace wellness programs are a great way to encourage employees to take better care of their health and to aid them in taking the right steps.

How to align HR wellness programs with business strategy

The key to a successful workplace wellness program is having enjoyable activities and events that actually work. However, the prospect of greater health and wellness isn’t always enough of an incentive to encourage employees to take part in these programs. Often, more tangible incentives and rewards are necessary.

There can be various types of incentives for a wellness program. It is important to customize them based on your employees’ unique set of needs. Keep in mind, that when employees succeed in taking the right steps towards wellness the result is twofold benefiting both themselves and their organization.

Types of incentives for wellness programs

To decide what wellness incentives will work best for your company, you must first be able to categorize them easily.

Cost incentives

Much of the time cost incentives are related to the material and can vary depending on the budget available to the organization. This is why when it comes to wellness benefits for employees, cost incentives are divided into three levels.

Low budget incentives

(less than $100): sports bottles, gardening tools, running hats, cooking lessons, yoga mat.

Mid-range budget incentives

($100 - 300): running shoes, health food store certificates, exercise lessons, massage certificates, camping equipment.

High-range budget incentives

($300 plus): bike, scuba gear, a day off with pay, stand-up desks, home exercise equipment.

No-cost incentives

If offering physical perks as a wellness benefit for employees is outside your budget you should know that it’s possible to put together wellness incentives that work without breaking the bank. For example, you could offer flexible working hours or the chance to work from home for part of the week as a way of promoting a better work/life balance.

Employees are still carrying out the same workload but they have greater ownership and control of their own time, enabling them to better manage their responsibilities outside of work.

Participation-based incentives

These incentives are offered to anyone who signs up to participate in the wellness program.  Participation-based incentive promotes inclusivity and encourages overall participation.

Progress-based incentives

Although signing up for a wellness program is a vital first step for employees,  it achieves little in the way of improved health unless employees actively make strides towards their goals. Offering your staff progress-based rewards encourages active participation.

Result-based incentives

These are rewards offered to employees who meet certain criteria. For example, you could offer incentives for people who reach a healthy BMI or cholesterol level. This system is the least inclusive as not all employees will succeed in reaching their goals. However, they still have value as you are showing your employees where they need to be to maximize their health.

Communications Planning Template for a Hybrid Workplace

Examples of employee wellness incentives

Company swag

Offering employees the perk of office or company swag is not a new concept and is often not near as exciting as employers believe it to be. Think pens, cheesy mugs, and easily misplaced stationery. However, when used correctly, company swag can be a great wellness incentive for employees. Try gifting items that people will actually benefit from. A few ideas include:

  • Water bottles to increase water intake
  • Branded fitness gear  and workout clothes
  • Reusable, eco-friendly cutlery, cups, and straws
  • Comfy blankets or sweaters
  • Seasonal accessories like umbrellas or beanies

Dedicated nap spaces

Naps in the office provide many wellness benefits for employees including enhancing alertness, strengthening memory, and improving emotional health. On the other hand, insufficient employee sleep leads to less productivity, increased absences, a greater risk of errors, and higher health care costs.

A short snooze of approximately 30 minutes is probably the easiest to take at the office since it fits into the lunch break schedule. To encourage employees to make use of this perk and to step away from their desks, create a comfortable, quiet, and nap-friendly space.

Free fitness classes

In today’s busy world, finding the time to work out is not easy. This is why more and more organizations are putting a focus on, and investing in promoting physical activity and exercise (either individual or in teams) in the office.

Group fitness classes can give employees the nudge they need to get fitter while bonding with their colleagues and having fun. When these classes are offered to employees free of charge and built into the working day, they are much more likely to partake.

Employee assistance programs

The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provides confidential counseling support and referral service for all staff with personal or work-related difficulties. EAPs are often available not only to employees but also to their immediate family members.

Such programs help to reduce absenteeism, workers' compensation claims, and healthcare costs. They also improve employee productivity and engagement and reduce costs related to employee turnover.

Catered lunches

A small gesture like providing free breakfast or lunch for your employees can go a long way to improving office culture and boosting employee morale. 

In fact, 48% of people in one survey said that if they were looking for a new job, they would weigh company perks – like free food – into their decision.

Some other employee incentive ideas include:

  • Offer to pay for, or subsidize, gym or exercise class memberships
  • Offer standing desks
  • Provide healthy snacks
  • Organize a company sports team
  • Post signs encouraging employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Create a fitness challenge with prizes
  • Host an employee field trip with team-building exercises
  • Host a healthy cooking contest
  • Place plants around the office
  • Allow pets in the office
  • Build a recreation/game room
  • Encourage ride-sharing, using public transportation, biking, and walking
  • Host a workshop focusing on how stress affects mental health

Key takeaway

These days it pays for employers to develop not only attractive wellness programs but creative incentives to engage employees to participate in them. These kinds of incentives can be used at any period or during a wellness program: when someone first joins the program, after a certain length of time, or once they’ve met a personal health goal.

There are many different incentives for employers to choose from and deciding which ones to integrate will vary depending on the specific company and its unique set of needs.

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